Sex Addicts Anonymous

Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) is a twelve-step program for sex addicts. SAA was founded in 1977 by several men who wanted a greater sense of anonymity than what was provided in other twelve step programs for sex addicts. SAA is open to anyone who desires to stop addictive sexual behavior, and is safe for heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals. In the same way that Al-Anon is a counterpart to Alcoholics Anonymous, COSA, is a counterpart to SAA.

SAA screens new members before giving them meetings times or locations, this is commonly called "12th Stepping." There is a specific questionnaire used in this process to determine if a potential member is likely a sex addict. This questionnaire, with slight modifications so that it could be used experimentally, was able to correctly differentiate self-identified sex addicts and court-determined sex offenders from a control group. Interestingly, when completing the questionnaire males more often perceive themselves as sexually compulsive, but score lower (show less signs of sexual addiction), on average, than females.

In SAA each member creates a unique definition of "sexual sobriety" based on abstaining from a personalized list of compulsive sexual behaviors. Members are encouraged to respect each other's definitions of sobriety. Many SAA members use a "three circle" concept to model their behaviors. The inner circle represents the compulsive sexual behaviors that must not be practiced. Inner circle behaviors might include having sex with a prostitute, or acting out with a nonconsensual victim. The outer circle includes sexual and nonsexual behaviors that are definitely healthy. Outer circle behaviors might include sex with a partner in a monogamous relationship or getting eight hours of sleep a night. In the middle circle are behaviors that are not considered a relapse (inner circle behaviors), but could quickly lead to one of left unchecked. Middle circle behaviors might include looking for a prostitute or contacting an old acting out partner.

In addition to regular meetings SAA also organizes "boundary meetings." These are special meetings for professional caregivers such as medical doctors, psychotherapists, and clergy who need to attend meetings separate from clients, patients, and parishioners.

SAA members are likely to have a history of sexual abuse during their childhood, and more substance abuse problems than control groups. SAA publishes the book Sex Addicts Anonymous: From Shame to Grace. It is used as approved literature within the organization.

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